On March 16, 2016, I got to engage in an hour-and-a-half public discussion with James Murphy, a scholar of the Hebrew Bible and Christian origins at South Dakota State University, on the topic of “Religious Texts & Social Contexts: Challenging Interpretations in a Changing World.” We discussed our different responses to hard passages in the Qur’an and the Bible. I was enriched by my engagement with James Murphy, and with Krystal Smith of the Veritas Forum, which organized the event. Video of our discussion is at http://www.veritas.org/religious-texts-social-conflicts/.
In 2011 the Comparative Studies in Religion section of the American Academy of Religion hosted a memorable panel on “Other Peoples’ Scriptures: The Use of Sacred Texts across Religious Boundaries.” Two of those papers, by Ryan Szpiech and Nate Hofer, along with a contribution from Gary Sparks, were then published in Numen 61.4 (2014) as a special issue on the theme of using scriptures across religious lines. I served as guest editor for that issue, and wrote the introduction, which reflects on how religious people reimagine religious others and their sacred texts when they read scriptures across religious lines:
“Other Peoples’ Scriptures: Mythical Texts of Imagined Communities.” Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 61.4 (2014): 329–333.
Here is a pdf of the article text as accepted by Numen, but without the publisher’s formatting. It is posted here for personal use, following the publisher’s two-year embargo period. The published Version of Record of this article may be obtained at the journal’s web site.
In 2013 I wrote a chapter on the general subject of boundaries and encounters between religious communities for a volume on Understanding Interreligious Relations, edited by David Cheetham, Douglas Pratt, and David Thomas.
David R. Vishanoff. “Boundaries and Encounters.” In Understanding Interreligious Relations, ed. David Cheetham, Douglas Pratt, and David Thomas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
I was surprised to discover how little systematic theoretical reflection there had been on the subject within the field of religious studies itself, but I found plenty of relevant case studies to illustrate the chapter’s argument, which is related to my thinking about sacrificial listening. Many thanks to Whitney Patterson, a University of Oklahoma student who worked closely with me to find, sift, and think through all those fascinating case studies!
The book is a remarkable collection of essays addressing both theoretical topics and specific religious traditions. The table of contents may be found at OUP’s web site.